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"I have decided to record everything I know about Subject. To know your enemy is to have a great advantage on the battle field. I have decided not to name Subject for confidentiality's sake as well as because calling things by their name eventually endears them to you. Subject will not endear himself to me again!"
— Katara, regarding Zuko.

Stalking Zuko is an Adaptation Expansion fic that acts as a between/behind the episodes look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. It starts off when Zuko is accepted in the Gaang - Katara doesn't trust him and fears that he will backstab them again. Her solution is to stalk Zuko and write down his every action so she would know his weaknesses. The story follows the Gaang's adventures throughout the second half of season three, retold through Katara's perspective.

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Has a pair of sequels in Not Stalking Zuko and Not Stalking Firelord Zuko and a prequel in Jet's Troubling Obsession.

Other fics set in the same continuity are the commonsense stick collection, A spoonful of sugar, princess of mine, the collected lists of Zuko, notes on a daughter, New Years and Somewhere out there. There's also An Avatar Christmas Carol which is set in the same universe but which the author describes as being of ambiguous canonicity.

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This fanfic provides examples of:

  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The events of "The Southern Raiders" happened around Katara's birthday, and since it was shortly after the anniversary of her mother's death, her mother's death also fell close to that birthday. To make matters worse, she's also separated from her father as a result of Azula's attack.
  • Abandoned Area: There are a lot of abandoned soldier homes all over the Fire Nation. After "The Southern Raiders", the Gaang hides at one before going to Ember Island.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Canon: While the trilogy mostly seeks to stick to canon events and simply reinterpret them or provide them with different context, Not Stalking Zuko changes events so that instead of attending the family friendly bad play they saw in canon, they went to a Hotter and Sexier late night showing instead. This is mostly for the sake of humor derived from further embarrassing the cast with their stage personas.
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  • Accusation Fic: The fic calls out Aang for sparing Ozai after sinking countless Fire Nation naval ships and causing a disastrous political situation for Zuko.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The fanfic expands on what happens between episodes, in part to allow for more interaction between Zuko and Katara. Certain canon scenes are expanded on, as during the leadup to the Agni Kai between Zuko and Azula, Zuko and Katara go to find a place to leave Appa, and there's additional dialogue between Zuko and Azula before the fight.
  • Adaptation Personality Change
    • Hakoda's significantly more involved in his children's lives after the end of the main series, for better or worse. This ranges from embarrassing but well-intentioned attempts to be a "cool dad," to trying to get Zuko to break up with Katara.
    • Downplayed with Pakku. He has mellowed out since "The Waterbending Masters," but still is fairly conservative in terms of his beliefs, such as that the Water Tribes' patriarchy isn't going to change in Katara's lifetime.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Mai's parents, especially their father. In the "Rebound" comic, Mai's father is completely loyal to Ozai and is trying to get his children to join him in the New Ozai Society, angry at having lost his job. This continues in "Smoke and Shadow," and while he does a Heel–Face Turn in the end, he's committed enough crimes to go to prison for a long time. In here, it's indicated that his job is the reason why he couldn't be as close to Mai as he'd hoped. He flats out quits his job to work in his brother's factory, while high-paying is not as prestigious, in the hopes that he would more time to rekindle his relationships with his family.
      • Arguably Mai as well. While she canonically loves Zuko and betrays Azula to protect him, she also betrays him to help her dad's coup attempts against him in the above-mentioned comics, to the point of endangering Zuko's family and being complicit in assassination attempts on Zuko and them, openly expressing that she has no faith in Zuko to be a good Firelord. Here, while Mai is revealed to have been spying on Zuko for Azula prior to his joining up with the Avatar, she also warns Zuko of the plotted coup and tells him everything she knows in order to help him.
    • Zig-zagged with the Southern Water Tribe. On the one hand, they're shown as more misogynistic than they are in canon. On the other, they don't seem to have any extremists like Gilak, and the North is shown as the more unreasonable side during the peace talks, due to being condescending toward the South and overly willing to punish their defeated enemies.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In canon, Arnook is a good man who makes the mistake of arranging a marriage between his daughter and a total jerk. In here, he has a chronic and severe case of Moral Myopia. He's deeply hurt by Yue's passing, but actually rejoices when Fire Nation soldiers perish, and only cares about what General Fong did because he almost killed Katara, not because he tortured Fire Nation prisoners.
    • To a lesser degree, the North is significantly more overt about their disdain for the South, while in "North and South," Malina and Maliq occasionally make condescending remarks about the South, and Maliq, unlike Malina never gave up on the plan to take control of the South's oil, but seems more benevolent.
  • Agree to Disagree: The author suggests this with her readers when she puts forward potentially controversial theories about the setting in her authors' notes.
  • Ain't No Rule: In the blindfolded race, Zuko and Suki maintain that there's no rule against carrying people.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Played with. Katara and Zuko do have feelings for each other, but are afraid to admit it. Played straight with Mai and Jet, who have feelings for Zuko, and Aang, who has feelings for Katara.
  • All There in the Manual: Some details that Katara misses are pointed out by the author. For example, it's revealed that Zuko was considering quitting fire flakes for Katara's sake, until she surprised him with a gift.
  • Almost Kiss: Multiple times between Katara and Zuko.
  • Artifact Title: Averted. Katara only stalks Zuko in the first installment, so the second installment adds a "Not," to the title to reflect that, and the third installment's title changes to reflect that Zuko is Fire Lord now.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The author admits that the treatment of Katara's scorpidillo bite, specifically Zuko's decision to Suck Out the Poison, falls into this trope.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: The Joo Dees were kidnapped refugee women and were sexually abused by the Dai Li
  • Author Tract: The reactions to Aang not killing Ozai read like this at times, particularly since the entire point of Aang's character arc is for him to learn the lessons the author thinks he should have learned in canon. The exceptionally long authors' notes on everything that happened each chapter and why can also feel this way.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Aang and Zuko get one apiece.
  • Be Yourself: A recurring theme for Zuko in this story. It's pointed out that Zuko considers his mastery of stealth and Dao swords an important part of his identity, since they're things that he mastered on his own. Lu Ten's final letter also tells Zuko that he shouldn't conform to others' expectations of him, although he, having internalized others' opinions of him, believes it means he can't change and begins to despair. The author believes that Mai's relationship with Zuko will not work out because of their mutual desire for the other to change.
  • Bedlam House: Averted. When Azula is institutionalized, they treat her very gently and hope for her recovery.
  • Berserk Button: Yue's death for Chief Arnook, especially when Sokka tries to ask if she'd want the revenge he's after. Arnook then hits one of Hakoda's by claiming the loss of his daughter was more painful to him that Hakoda's loss of his wife.
  • The Beautiful Elite: The Water Tribes apparently seem to be this to Fire Nation girls. Mai jokes that the Water Tribes banish the ugly children at birth. A strange example, as the Water Tribes are stereotypically barbaric in comparison to the Fire Nation.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Fornicating with koala-sheep will get one removed from the Fire Lord succession.
  • Better Than Sex: Suki declares the dragonberries to be this, which greatly worries Sokka.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Averted. Azula is so unstable and hostile to her own people that the Fire Sages back Zuko's claim to the throne despite being largely unfamiliar with him owing to his years of banishment because he simply can't be as bad a prospective firelord as Azula.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Mai is the Betty and Katara is the Veronica with their traits switched around. Mai is Zuko's childhood friend, the "safe" choice, and a lady of the court, but with Veronica traits like being different from what he's used to (after his banishment and traveling), is very wealthy, used to commanding servants, and is an Ice Queen. Katara is the Veronica in that she's exotic, seemingly unattainable due to their past history and possible futures, is outside of his world (the Fire Nation), and seemingly unaware of Zuko's affections. However, Katara has Betty traits such as being emotionally reliable, Zuko's best friend, and part of Zuko's past lifestyle of banishment, chasing the Avatar, traveling, and re-banishment.
  • Big Fancy House: Zuko's vacation home on Ember Island. In fact, he used this trope to convince the Gaang to hide there. The royal villas are also this, seeing how they used to house the royal family.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Fireflakes are very spicy to non-Fire Nation people. Averted with Fire Nation colony cuisine, which has evolved to use less spices due to the difficulties bringing them from the homeland and absorbed elements of Earth Kingdom cuisine.
  • Book Burning: Firelord Sozin kept many original documents and scrolls that he raided from invaded areas and burned everyone else's copies. Also, Zhao's burning of the Fire Nation section of the Wa Shi Tong's library, while practical, is seen as very unusual.
  • Boring, but Practical: In a Continuity Nod and Call-Back, Zuko's firebending lessons to Aang. Aang finds Zuko's lesson extremely boring and dull, but Zuko points out how dangerous fire is, so it's more important to know how to block before learning how to attack.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Ember Island kids, Chit Sang, Jee, and Mai all come back.
  • Call-Forward: Sokka and Smellerbee's Wang Fire beard turns out to be based on a Ba Sing Se therapist named Dr. Wang.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Katara calls Sokka and Zuko two-pot screamers. Katara is no better herself.
    • Mai is one herself. Justified because she drank a whole wine bottle in one sitting.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Katara and Zuko both tried to avert this trope, but they still can't.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Zuko and Suki.
  • Catchphrase:
    • The author has one in her author's notes: Bless his/her cotton socks!
    • Katara likes to note that X wins/win at X (forever). Also, that much fun was had by all.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Zuko gets sick from cooler fever, as warming himself in a freezer caused a temperature shift that weakened his immune system.
  • Cerebus Callback:
    • Several of Zuko's sillier behaviors tend to manifest in far less silly ways within Ozai. Katara notes in Stalking Zuko that "Subject" is prone to list-making to take stock of his sometimes quite ridiculous problems/concerns and "disappearing" things and people (the second referring to the infamous "field trips with Zuko"). We later learn from Ozai's "Closet of Crazy Evil" and his private cell in the dragon catacombs that Ozai is also prone to similar list-making and people disappearing, but of a far more nefarious variety.
    • In Not Stalking Firelord Zuko, Ming asks Zuko what Azula'a favorite foods are, because Azula isn't eating what they give her. Zuko tells her that Azula used to really like cinnamon and vanilla cream puffs, but that Azula would probably lie and say she didn't like them, and that she'd always said that she didn't like them, but she "would always unfailing eat them in large quantities when she thought no one was looking." It's a cute quirk from the otherwise serious and dangerous Azula. Then in the side-story prequel princess of mine, we find out that Ursa's purfume smelled like vanilla and cinnamon, and that every dessert reminds Azula of her.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • The Gaang's complaining about how "Boy in the Iceberg" was a bad play is rewritten as trying to take their minds off the ending, in which their counterparts are killed and the Fire Nation conquers the world.
    • Katara, while saving Zuko's life does so while desperately hoping that he doesn't die and tearfully confessing her love to him. The latter obviously would only occur in a fic that has Zutara, rather than Kataang.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Naked Iroh Time in Jet's Troubling Obsession
  • Chekhov's Gun: Zuko's protectiveness of his uncle in Jet's Troubling Obsession and how Iroh is able to make so much tea. Jet decides that Zuko's not a firebender, but Iroh is. Zuko's attack on Jet when he deduced this proved his point.
  • Conscription: The Fire Nation has this, with the rich draft-dodging and most of the recruits being from the lower classes.
  • Children Are Innocent: Deconstructed with Aang. He assumes the best in everyone and doesn't seem to be able to predict or comprehend the consequences of this belief in regards to global politics. He doesn't understand moral nuance and has adopted what he can remember of the monks' teachings into an unquestionably righteous code of conduct that he fully trusts to be the truth of how the world is and rightfully should be. He acts on the best and most innocent intentions but his moral framework for the world is childish. After sparing Ozai's life, Aang has the gall to be angry at Ozai, not for hurting people, but for not conforming to Aang's idealistic worldview by continuing to try to hurt people and being unwilling to repent. It's actually hinted that Aang himself may be misunderstanding some key Air Nomad principles owing to only knowing Air culture through the lens of a child, as his mentor Monk Gyatso killed countless firebenders in self-defense.
  • Covert Pervert: Katara's favorite parts from Love Amongst the Dragons are secretly the heavily implied explicit scenes, which she's reread multiple times.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: Played for Drama. The Air Nomad culture's emphasis on spiritual freedom means they had culturally-enforced Free Love and communally raised their children. The latter was alienating enough for the other Nations, but the addition of the former led to problems - of the "Air Nomad men unthinkingly taking advantage of women who expected commitment from them, then the Air Nomads reputedly taking any half-breed children from the abandoned (and often dishonored) single mothers against the wishes of those mothers" variety. They had such a problematic reputation as a result of their alien view of love that the Fire Nation was able to successfully propagandize them as deviants and child-stealers, which is how Fire Lord Sozin motivated the Fire Nation into complying with the Air Nomad Genocide. Even to this day, in the Fire Nation, Air Nomads are regarded as evil, to the point that those Fire Nationals descended from children taken from the monasteries, like Ty Lee, refuse to admit they have Air Nomad blood.
  • Cry into Chest: Zuko ends up comforting Katara this way after the Southern Raiders, although he was very awkward about it at first.
  • Cucumber Facial: The spa day that Toph gave to Katara for her birthday had this.
  • Cultured Badass: Suki, Toph, and Zuko can play musical instruments due to their backgrounds.
  • Culture Clash: Mostly between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes (North see South as weak peasants who should do what they say, South see North as jerks who wouldn't help when the South was getting continuously raided) and the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation (the Earth Kingdom favors decorum and politeness, the Fire Nation prefers directness).
  • Cutting the Knot: Suki and Zuko, faced with a puzzle box as part of a challenge, stomp on the box, breaking it open and getting their marble. They also glue together the pieces of another puzzle rather than try to balance the pieces.
  • Damned by a Fool's Praise: A variant comes into play with Kataang and Maiko, given that the only people who ship those two do so for reasons that are suspect at best. The former is presented to Katara as the only viable marriage option for her if she doesn't want to marry Hahn, and Zuko resumes his relationship with Mai largely for the sake of honor.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The best thing Teo can say about sea prunes are that they aren't the worst thing he's eaten. Considering that he's eaten grass as a refugee, that isn't saying much.
  • Darker and Edgier: The fic, compared to canon, as it more openly discusses difficult real-world issues like sexism, war crimes and other such things. Each installment in the trilogy is darker than the last, and more openly talks about those issues.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Bloodbending helped Katara save Zuko's life after he was hit in the chest with lightning.
    • The author points out that while firebending is often viewed somewhat negatively, as Aang did at first, Zuko's "date" with Jin helped him see that it could be used for good things
  • Dramedy: The trilogy is intensely character- and relationship-focused with varying levels of comedy and drama at any particular point; it begins more as a comedy with occasional drama and ends as a romantic drama with occasional comedy. The accompanying side fics set in the shared universe ping-pong between full comedy, high drama, and even tragedy (in the case of New Years).
  • Deconstruction Fic: The series deconstructs the gender dynamics, politics, relationships and consequences of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Defied. Aang expected the Firelord to stop being a bad person and see the error of his ways after Aang spared him. Aang can't understand why Ozai isn't greatful and cooperative now that Aang has defeated him and spared his life. Instead, Aang sparing Ozai means that Ozai continues to have (and take) opportunities to hurt others and destabilize his son's new reign.
  • Defictionalization: In-Universe, after Sokka read about Katara wanting a commonsense stick in her stalker log, he gave her a real commonsense stick.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Water Tribe patriarchy astounds Zuko and Katara (thanks to her basically growing up with no men around to enforce it), and the Fire Nation judges mental illness with Victorian-esque values which matters when Azula gets institutionalized after her Villainous Breakdown.
    • The author points out that the Water Tribe has virtually no concept of privacy. Sokka found Katara's diary while looking for seal jerky, and only (reluctantly) kept quiet out of love and respect for Katara and Suki, as well as fear of what they'd do to him if they found out.
    • For Aang, romantic love and sex are unrelated things because in Air Nomad culture one didn't need to have love for sex or sex for love.
  • Deliberately Bad Example: Why does Katara kiss Aang at the end of the war, despite the fact that she doesn't love him and the author hates Kataang? Because Katara's been told that she'd be best off marrying a high-status husband- the Avatar or the son of the Northern Water Tribe's chief- and Han makes Aang look like a good choice by comparison.
  • Dirty Old Man: Iroh, with a better success rate than most.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Katara gets distracted a lot by Zuko's shirtlessness.
  • Doctor's Orders: Dr. Yang orders bed rest and medication for Zuko after recovery from his lighting wound.
  • Dope Slap: Katara prone to tapping people with her commonsense stick when they do particularly stupid things. Zuko lampshades his always being on the receiving end.
  • Double Entendre: In "Boy in the Iceberg," Sokka gets quite a few after obtaining the "space sword."
  • Draft Dodging: The only way for Fire Nation women to dodge conscription is to be mother of five or more children or be a prison guard, which is why Ming chose the latter.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Parodied with Katara's birthday dictatorship. (A benign dictatorship!) And her Bell of Power in her Sick Episode.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Katara did not like Zuko joking that he'd rather get hit by lightning than do something else, once he was on the mend.
  • Dueling Scar: Zuko's scar from the Agni Kai is emphasized as one.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For all they've gone through and all they will have to go through moving forward, the summation epilogue reveals that the Gaang do attain fulfillment in their individual life goals. Aang eventually discovers other unrealized airbenders living among the members of the other nations and is able to restart the Air Nomad culture; he also finds other romantic loves. Sokka and Suki stay together and become important politicians and peacekeepers who oversee the Fire Nation colonies' transition to independence and eventually become the ruling couple of the Southern Water Tribe, widely recognized for their leadership, combative skill, and (for Sokka) his creative genius. Toph gets to have her freedom and adventures while coming to an understanding with her parents and having a home that accepts her with Zuko, Iroh, and Katara in the Fire Nation. Zuko and Katara go on to get married, have five children, do an enormous amount of work towards societal and economic reform and global peace initiatives, and become two of the most widely respected monarchs in Fire Nation history, presiding over what becomes considered by historians to be a Golden Age of peace and prosperity in both the Fire Nation and the world.
  • Eating the Eye Candy:
    • Katara is fond of watching Zuko teach or practice firebending because of the shirtlessness. She also has a fixation on how Zuko looked in his Boiling Rock prison outfit, and it reappears frequently in her fantasies.
    • Zuko eventually admits he finds Katara extremely attractive in her ninja gear.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Katara thinks the rain was in sync with her crying, it stops raining and a rainbow comes out after she lets it all out.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: The Gaang try to leave Aang ignorant of the consequences of the Siege of the North. Shot down when Arnook gleefully tells Aang of all he had killed by drowning.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Discussed to why this happened to the Fire Nation: due the extensive war effort more women entered the workforce. Women started to be paid and treated equally after they striked for equal pay, bringing the economy to halt until the people in charge gave into their demands.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Katara's first entry, in which she details her reasons for the diary and her first observations, shows that for all she doesn't trust Zuko and finds him annoying at times, she sympathizes with and is attracted to him more than she'd like to admit. This goes to show that the fic is colored by Katara's perceptions and influenced by her biases, regardless of whether she's aware of them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Lampshaded by Katara when she realizes that she's starting to call Iroh "Uncle".
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone except Aang(although the author points out that he does eventually not only notice, but approve once he takes off his "crush blinders.") is aware about how Zuko and Katara feel about each other, as Katara finds out when she decides to come forward at the end of the fic.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The Fire Nation mainland is seen as a tropical Australia with many poisonous animals and plants
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Downplayed. In Not Stalking Zuko, Katara happens on Zuko and Aang just as they start talking about Aang's desire to help Katara accept Air Nomad culture, but midway through, Zuko vaguely references something he said while Katara wasn't listening in on them.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: In "Boy in the Iceberg," Sokka is said to have gotten his "space sword" this way, as well as becoming king of a Fire Nation town.
  • Exiled to the Couch: In the first part of Not Stalking Zuko, Zuko is often sexiled to the couch by Sokka and Suki.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Invoked by Jin and Zuko for Jet to leave them alone.
  • Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Moon peaches, dragon berries, Fire Nation purple passion fruit, Earth Kingdom yellow passion fruit.
    • Although passion fruit in both purple and yellow hues are real-world fruits, and moon peaches, at the least, appear in-series.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Suki and Katara discuss birth control options they have which includes Katara's healing bending and the Kyoshi Island pill.
  • Fatal Flaw: Aang struggles with seeing value in others' perspectives and persistently looks to avoid conflict and seek alternative routes and solutions rather than facing difficult situations head on. While in the show this flaw is discussed, in this fic this flaw has major consequences.
    • Early in Not Stalking Zuko, Katara is stung by a Scorpidillo. Aang had time to scare it off with fire before it stung her, but chose airbending because he didn't want to hurt it. The air blast only serves to startle and agitate it further, and it responds by immediately stinging Katara. If Katara hadn't had access to immediate first aid, this could have been a literally fatal flaw in Aang's response. It also foreshadows the problems that will arise from Aang's decision to spare Ozai.
    • Like in canon, Aang ignores the advice of all of his friends and past lives and spares Ozai's life after their battle. Ozai takes the very next opportunity to try to kill them, nearly succeeding in doing so to Toph. Also, leaving him alive leaves Zuko vulnerable to the political instability of a still-living predecessor who never legally abdicated the throne, meaning rebellious forces have a someone to rally around, and Ozai continues to sneak them orders on how to undermine and assassinate Zuko from prison. Ozai's made very clear that he's going to use every moment he has left in life to further his goals of hurting others and all Aang's decision does is jeopardize the attempts at peace and risk lives.
  • First-Person Smartass:
    • Katara's narration is extremely snarky.
    • Jet also counts for the parts from his perspective.
  • Fix Fic: The fic mostly follows canon events, but occasionally adds, changes or reinterprets things with the end result of getting Zuko and Katara together. Explicitly admitted by the author in Chapter 23 of Not Stalking Zuko's author's note.
    "I think both Katara and Aang deserve better than each other. So I am making my own fic to make the ending more palatable to myself and hopefully you guys too!"
  • Foregone Conclusion: One for each story.
    • Stalking Zuko: Katara will forgive Zuko and Zuko will gain Katara's trust.
    • Not Stalking Zuko: The Gaang will win the war.
    • Not Stalking Firelord Zuko: Zuko will be crowned Fire Lord and the Gaang will go back to Ba Sing Se.
    • Jet's Troubling Obsession: Jet will captured by the Dai Li and brainwashed.
  • Foreign Queasine: Stewed sea prunes disgust Zuko, Haru, Teo and Aang (the characters at the Southern Air Temple who aren't from the Water Tribe). Zuko finds it incredibly salty and thinks it moves.
    • Katara describes eating fireflakes like licking the sun. Fire Nation colonial OCs feel the same way with the large amounts of fireflakes in Fire Nation mainland food, as they use far less of it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Aang's refusal to use the more aggressive and deterring firebending instead of the more pacifistic airbending against the scoridillo even when its intent on fatally poisoning Katara mirrors how his more pacifistic approach to the threat that is Ozai leads to Ozai nearly fatally "poisoning" Zuko's reign as Firelord before it even really began.
    • At one point while staying on Ember Island, Katara finds Ozai's "Closet of Crazy Evil," which, among other things, reveals evidence that Ozai became obsessively hateful and murderous towards his brother Iroh after Iroh showed Ozai mercy in an Agni Kai, with Ozai's notes detailing any way he could think of to hurt Iroh in revenge for the humiliation, including contemplating hurting Zuko since Ozai knows Iroh loves him. This foreshadows that Ozai will not respond to Aang's later act of mercy with grace, but will instead do his best to hurt the Gaang for it in return.
  • The Four Loves: This comes up from time to time, in the author's notes and the text of the fic.
    • Storge: The author believes that Katara's feelings for Aang are this.
    • Philia: This exists between the Gaang, as it's emphasized that they're True Companions.
    • Eros: Sokka and Suki, Katara and Zuko.
    • Agape: Aang says that this is the kind of love that the monks taught him most about.
  • Freudian Slip:
    • In the pre-Ember Island section of Not Stalking Zuko, Zuko gets "sexiled" from his shared bedroom with Sokka by Sokka and Suki. Katara, who is having difficulty sleeping, invites Zuko back to her bed... room. Bedroom. Because Suki's bed is now empty and she doesn't think it's fair of Sokka to make Zuko try to sleep on an uncomfortable old couch. Zuko's face at her initial wording is described as "astonished."
    • Zuko introduces Katara to guests as "my Katara" three seperate times over the course of Zuko's coronation party. Later, the two discuss how to help guide Aang as he grows up and Zuko offhandedly says the experience will be useful for when they have kids, before desperately correcting himself and insisting he meant when they have kids in general, not when they have kids with each other.
    • Jet is very bad when it comes to these. He thinks he's making violent threats against Lee's person, but almost all of them end up coming out like Unusual Euphemisms which reinforce everyone's beliefs that Jet has a crush on Lee, something Jet fervently denies.
  • Friend to All Children: Zuko and The Duke adore each other, Zuko even teaches him how to use a sword.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The older members of the Gaang find it funny/mortifying when Toph sings stage!Katara's song, "I Love Willies."
  • Genre Shift: Stalking Zuko is Dramedy leaning heavily towards comedy, Not Stalking Zuko is Dramedy-flavored Slice of Life, and Not Stalking Firelord Zuko is mostly drama with occasional bursts of comedy.
  • The Ghost: Mai is not in the first two stories, but her presence still makes a major impact.
  • Girls' Night Out Episode: The spa day
  • Gone Horribly Right: Katara briefly has this reaction when, after getting Zuko and Suki to get along, they start talking with each other more often, and Zuko starts confiding things in Suki, making her insecure about her own relationship with Zuko.
  • The Good Chancellor: Iroh decides to become this to help Zuko rule the Fire Nation
  • Good News, Bad News: Azula breaks it Zuko Mai was spying on him throughout their relationship. She tells Katara the good news of evidence against Ozai
  • Graying Morality: In the first half of the series, before the war ends, the Fire Nation is a clear antagonist, but several Fire Nation OCs are introduced and portrayed sympathetically. After the end of the war, the peace process begins, which involves Zuko trying to rebuild his nation, put it on the right track and make amends for what it did. Meanwhile, the victorious nations are hardly saints, as the Earth Kingdom has some war criminals in its midst (the Dai Li and General Fong), while the Northern Water Tribe treats its Southern "sister tribe" poorly.
  • Groupie Brigade: Zuko has one and is disturbed by it.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Zuko's cooler fever was initially mistaken for this. Katara gets this after drinking too much with Suki.
    • Aang also gets this after celebrating the end of the war with the Southern Water Tribe men.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: The story doesn't shy away from the idea that Aang should have killed Ozai, because Ozai fully intends to continue hurting people at every opportunity for as long as he is left alive. It's not a pleasant stance—the chapter in which this is made clear is called "Ugly Truths"—but the consequences of Aang not killing Ozai are severe and burdensome for everyone but Aang.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Discussed in one of the author's notes. The author says that if Aang, after a few months, achieved the same mastery as Katara, Toph and Zuko did in their respective elements after years of study, they would be quite upset, which is why the author believes he is not a master yet as of Sozin's Comet.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Ozai oppressed everyone equally even if they were his followers.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Jet, after his friends interpret his stalking of "Lee" to mean Jet has a crush on Lee. He continues announcing his not-gay sexuality frequently and often unprompted for the rest of his appearances. The denial is not helped by the fact that almost everything he says to Zuko can be interpreted as a Freudian Slip.
  • He Is All Grown Up: A platonic version between Fat and Zuko, who last saw each other when Zuko was a child.
  • Henpecked Husband: Sokka is seen for Suki as this by the Southern Water Tribe warriors, which actually makes Sokka feel uncomfortable as he feels that they are disrespecting both himself and Suki.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Lampshaded by Katara, when Sokka and Zuko teach The Duke swordsmanship with tree branches.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Aang has this with the Fire Nation. It's a Justified Trope; many Fire Nation citizens had relatives that were killed in the Siege of the North when Aang was in the Avatar State.
  • Heroic Neutral:
    • Kyoshi Island was neutral in the war until Zuko attacked their island and they were inspired to get more involved; their neutrality makes them perfect to put down the violence and chaos that erupts in the Fire Nation colonies post-war. However, it does get them the ire of some parties at the peace conference owing to neutrality during the war not exactly being a popular position.
    • Subverted with the Northern Water Tribe, who can be considered this because they only took part in the war once the Fire Nation specifically came after them. Their isolationist policies and refusal to support in the other nations' war efforts or help their own sister tribe as it was decimated and pleading for aid is portrayed as selfish and cowardly and has earned them varying levels of ill-repute.
    • In the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Sokka is revealed to have become a governor of the Fire Nation colonies during their transition to independence. He was chosen specifically because, as a member of the Water Tribe, he was perceived as more neutral to the complicated fire and earth cultural and racial conflicts, as he belonged to none of the involved racial groups but had strong friendships with members of both.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone gets this but props has to go to one-scene characters Ming and Sorrak
  • Hostage Situation: After Aang defeated Ozai, Ozai found and kept a piece of broken glass from the airship wrecks. Once everyone ceased paying as much attention to him, he grabbed Toph, held her up so her feet couldn't touch the ground, and put the glass shard to her throat, demanding the those around him do as he said or Toph would die. In the end no one managed to intervene and Toph instead happened to hit a vulnerable part of him in her squirming, and he dropped her in surprise; she immediately trapped him the moment her feet hit the ground. This incident, and Aang's reaction to it (doubling down on his insistence that he isn't wrong and everyone should forgive Ozai) really shakes the present characters' trust in Aang, especially Toph's.
  • Hotter and Sexier: A Boy In The Iceberg's late night show happens to very racy and sexy, both compared to the normal version and what we see of it in the show. As such, the older Gaang members debate whether it's appropriate for Aang and Toph, and Suki has to make herself look older to even buy the tickets.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Katara tries to warn Zuko of him possibly getting stalkers after seeing his Groupie Brigade. Zuko rightly laughs at the irony of Katara warning him.
  • I Have This Friend...:
    • Katara meant this literally with Suki, when trying to explain worrying that a friend is not being careful with her lover. Suki answers her until Katara reveals she thinks her friend might be pregnant. Suki is at first disappointed when she thinks Katara was careless and understandably freaks thinking Katara got herself pregnant.
    • Hakoda, while talking with Zuko, discusses Bato and Ming, another Water Tribe and Fire Nation couple, indirectly using them to argue that it wouldn't work out, and saying that he'd go so far as to talk Ming into breaking up with Bato so as to spare Bato's feelings. Katara confronts him, and they get into an argument over Katara keeping Bato and Ming's relationship secret from him, and of Hakoda trying to meddle in Bato's life. Of course, Katara realizes that this is all a thinly veiled facade for talking about her and Zuko.
    Katara narrating: I felt like we were no longer talking about Bato and Ming right now. Perhaps we never had been.
    • Katara playa this straight in Not Stalking Firelord Zuko when explaining her relationship problems to Sokka. Sokka sees right through it.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Zuko hates the medicinal concoction that he has to take for his lighting wound.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Toph and Zuko often talk how bad his earthbending or firebending or complain how a student Aang is in front of Aang.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Jet (although he fiercely denies it) to Zuko.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Suki is quite fond of pulling these.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Almost all of the cast have moments of this as they learn more about each other and their differing values and histories, but especially Aang. He genuinely loves and wants the best for his new surrogate family but has enshrined the simplified and idealistic moral teachings the monks taught him in his childhood, so he doesn't understand or respect his family's difference of opinion on how to go about managing their personal problems. In trying to help them overcome personal challenges, he can become very callous and preachy towards their actual feelings.
    • Following Katara's and Zuko's return after the Southern Raiders manhunt, Aang persistently and passive-aggressively slips in disapproval about Katara's inability to forgive into basically every conversation with or in earshot of Katara. Aang is doing this because he genuinely thinks forgiveness is the right choice for Katara and he wants to help her get there, but it comes off as so condescending and self-righteous that he just ends up hurting and infuriating Katara instead.
    • When Zuko and the rest of the Gaang are trying to help Aang face the fact that the fight with the Firelord will be a duel to the death, Aang tries to use Air Nomad philosophy to try to think out a solution to the problem of Ozai that doesn't involve killing him. In doing so, he effectively uses Air Nomad teachings to victim blame Zuko for his father being a bad person. In summing up Aang's argument to Zuko, Katara writes "the Monks always told [Aang] to meet violence with forgiveness and maybe if Zuko forgave his father, Ozai would be a nicer person and maybe if we were all nice to Ozai, he might see the error of his ways and stop fighting and then the war could end bloodlessly." Unsurprisingly, this offends basically everyone else in the Gaang.
  • In Vino Veritas: Zuko is affectionate and reckless drunk. Sokka is philosophical drunk. Katara gets extremely playful and flirty when Zuko tries to put her to bed. Mai is a shameless drunk.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Sokka says that since Katara spent three days alone with Zuko looking for the Southern Raiders, she must have had sex with Zuko. Katara turns it on him, however. She says by that logic she should assume Sokka had kinky prison sex with Zuko since he was alone with Zuko for five days.
  • Insistent Terminology: Katara does not "run away," she "storms off." She also suggests that Zuko not call his training Aang "relentless training," but "enthusiastic practice," to make it slightly more appealing to him.
  • Insulted Awake: Katara tries to invoke this trope with Zuko when Zuko is electrocuted by Azula, it doesn't work.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: In the play, Zuko is flanderized, made into one of the play's bicycles and his stage!Uncle eats cake. That Stage!Iroh eats cake, when Iroh doesn't like cake in real life, is what bothers Zuko.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: The Dowager believes that secret relationships are doomed to failure, and because of this, hopes that the secrecy will tear Kuei and Song apart.
  • Lethal Chef: Suki's food taste like congealed sadness.
  • Like Brother and Sister: In an Inverse from their the The Friends Who Never Hang in canon, Toph and Zuko are the closest to each other in the Gaang due to the many things they have in common: both were new additions to the Gaang and had to deal with the refitting of the group dynamic. Both came from lives of prestige and restriction and the fact they had to fight to get what they want.
    • In epilogue, Toph ends up living with Zuko and Iroh after the war
  • Logical Weakness: Why did no other firebender prisoner besides Zuko bend heat to keep themselves warm in the cooler? The answer: get cooler fever and now you can't defend yourselves from the guards or other prisoners.
  • Loose Canon: An Avatar Christmas Carol is set in the same world but is ambiguously canon.
  • Love Hurts: Zuko confesses as much to Aang in Not Stalking Zuko.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Played with and mocked. When Zuko revealed that Avatar Roku was his maternal great-grandfather, Aang realized that would make him Zuko's great-grandfather. Then Aang proceeds in asking his "grandson" for hugs.
  • Maid: The OCs found in the Fire Nation palace dungeon after the Agni Kai.
  • Make-Out Kids: Suki and Sokka are often canoodling in story.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "I remember everything you say." Said first by Zuko when explaining how he knew what Katara wanted for her birthday; said again by Katara during Sozin's Comet when using what Zuko told her about Azula's weaknesses against the latter.
    • "You/I can take it even further." Said first by Hama in The Puppeteer; said again by Katara when she uses bloodbending to keep Zuko's heart functioning after Azula struck him with lightning.
  • The Medic: As canon Katara but also the OC, Dr. Yang.
  • Men Can't Keep House: When the Gaang goes out to buy cleaning supplies for the vacation house they're squatting in on Ember Island, Zuko says they don't need to do so, prompting Katara to remark "Boys" in her narration.
  • Mistaken For Bi: Jet's stalking is mistaken constantly as having an unhealthy crush on Zuko. Jet's friends and therapist tell him that they're okay with his sexuality, just let go of Lee's "rejection" and move on to keep it from taking over his life.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Zuko and Katara feared Suki was this after Sokka told them of dreaming that they were penguins and a Penguin!Suki giving him a bag to lay on. Zuko feared this was a prophetic dream since they have been having sex a lot and Zuko didn't know whether they used protection.
  • Moment Killer: Just like how everybody eavesdrops on everybody, everybody also interrupts important moments for everybody. It's most frequently Sokka and Aang, but seemingly every reoccurring character kills one or more moments at some point.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens in "The Boy In The Iceberg", with the climax suddenly becoming much darker than the very silly play, and with Ozai and Azula killing all the Gaang.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Zuko, lampshaded by Katara on many occasions.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: The trilogy focuses heavily on the cast's flaws, especially Katara's, Aang's, and Zuko's. Katara is bossy, nagging, hypocritical, spiteful, jealous, grudge-holding, nosy to the point of offensive, and far too coddling for anyone's good. Aang is flighty, avoidant, attention-seeking, pushy, entitled, hypocritical, self-righteous, self-centered, and Innocently Insensitive. Zuko is socially clumsy, ill-tempered, jealous, easily frustrated, prone to emotional dramaticism and blow-ups, lacking an internal filter, and still struggling with the concepts of honor and guilt to the point that it's still relatively easy to manipulate him, depending on who exactly is defining "honor" or accusing him of wrongdoing (Ozai and Azula he's past listening to, but he's easily duped into going on a fishing trip he otherwise didn't want to by Hakoda because Hakoda says it's about "masculine honor" and Mai is able to guilt him into continuing to date her because she guilts him about the dishonorable way he's treated her previously). Despite this, all three are extremely well-intentioned, compassionate, and genuinely heroic people devoted to both their loved ones and to making the world a better place.
  • Mundane Utility: Firebending is great for warming up water and drying dishes, as Katara discovers.
  • Ms. Exposition: Stage!Katara
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Katara nearly had a Heroic BSoD when she realized she bloodbended an uninvolved Fire Nation captain in her hunt for Yon Rha.
    • On a more minor note, Katara also realizes that claiming that Sokka's reluctance to seek out their mother's killer is proof that he didn't love her as much was a cruel and unfair thing to say.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Naked Iroh Time! This scars Zuko, Jet and their Ba Sing Se neighbors. Although Jet later questions how Iroh is able to go around naked when it's early spring and their apartment is poorly insulated.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: In the T-rated "Not Stalking Zuko," the fic uses this, such as "puck" instead of "fuck." It's dropped in the M-rated "Not Stalking Firelord Zuko," in which profanity is uncensored.
  • Never Say That Again:
    • During and after the Southern Raiders, Katara bans Aang from saying the "f-word." It's forgiveness, since while she doesn't have it in herself to kill Yon Rha, she can't forgive him, either.
    • During Zuko's recovery from the bolt to his chest he makes a comment about how he'd rather be struck by lightning than keep taking the horribly foul-tasting medicine. Katara's immediate response is a silent, ferocious, unbroken staredown until, after a few silent seconds, Zuko meekly capitulates to taking the medicine, eventually finding the voice to ask, "too soon?" She tells him to never make a joke about that again.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Aang doesn't kill Ozai and fulfills his Air Nomad beliefs...Now he completely destabilizes Zuko's legitimacy as Fire Lord and causes a Succession Crisis that nearly tears apart the Fire Nation. Since he establishes that he cares more about his own beliefs than the fate of the world as a result no one trusts him to actually take responsibility and fulfill his duty as Avatar.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Katara has a knack for thinking of these. "Subject" for Zuko. "Dippy-Flippy" for Ty Lee. "Gloomy Hairbuns" for Mai.
    • Chit Sang is also this, and tends to refer to people by certain designations, such as "Little Blue".
    • Azula, too.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jet's Troubling Obsession's Dr.Wang is Avatar's fantasy equivalent of Sigmund Freud.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Katara helping Aang through his rejection by Ty Lee accidentally re-convinces Aang that he and Katara are perfect for each other, which only adds to Katara's stress levels over her increasingly pressurized circumstances during the peace talks.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Downplayed and of a boundaries and privacy variety, rather than physical space. While characters generally respect each others' boundaries when they are asserted, a running gag throughout the series is how everybody is nosy and eavesdrops on everybody; at one point, when the rest of the cast collectively and wordlessly decides to spy on nearby drama, Katara internally celebrates that she's among like-minded people.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Katara clarifies that Zuko's "guilty dance" is not an actual dance, but "a set of predictable actions" that he does when he's ashamed..
  • Noodle Incident: The event that led to Sozin's third Agni Kai rule, which forbids using koala sheep dung against one's opponent.
  • The Not Secret: More people are aware of Katara stalking Zuko than she initially realizes. Zuko himself has known since very early on, much to Katara's dismay.
  • Not So Different:
    • Suki and Zuko after their stealth-off realize that they are both really great at being "stealthy badasses" and both felt like outsiders to the group (while Zuko had difficulty getting the Gaang to trust him, Suki had difficulty finding her role in it).
    • Zuko also shares the latter with Toph, as well as their being from privileged backgrounds and having a bad relationship with their parents.
    • Toph and Aang both have unrequited crushes on someone else (Katara and Sokka).
  • Obligatory Swearing: The fic occasionally falls into this in Not Stalking Firelord Zuko. Since it's rated M, you can see characters use profanity that they wouldn't have used on the show, or even in previous installments, and the change from the latter can be somewhat jarring.
  • Offered the Crown: Zuko didn't believe that Iroh would actually make him Fire Lord, so he's genuinely shocked that Iroh wants him to take the crown.
  • That Old-Time Prescription: Zuko teaches Katara that sun poppy tea makes a great painkiller.
  • Out of Focus: Because the story is told from Katara's journal, anything she doesn't witness is explained to her later second-hand. This also means that characters like Teo (who had few interactions with Katara at the Temple and then left with Hakoda) don't really have any meaningful presence in the story. It also means that major character conflicts that don't occur near Katara can radically change the dynamics of the cast (such as The Incident between Ozai and Toph after Aang's and Ozai's Boss Fight by the time she sees those characters next).
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Suki feels like this because she's not a leader like Sokka nor is she a bender like everyone else.
  • Padding: In-Universe, the writers of The Boy in the Iceberg don't know what the Gaang nor Azula, Zuko and their friends were doing after Ba Sing Se and the Day of Black Sun so they fill it up with wacky side plots and musical numbers.
  • Parents as People: Toph's parents wants what's best for her, but clearly don't understand their daughter and hurt her because of it.
    • The reason Mai's dad quits his job as ambassador of Omashu because he realizes that he missed the entirety of Mai's childhood and neglected her because of it. Mai's mother is a social climber and forced Mai to be prim and proper due to growing up in the Decadent Court of Fire Lord Azulon and is trying to ensure their survival under Ozai.
  • Peace Conference: Leading up to one in Ba Sing Se
  • Precocious Crush: Aang has one on Katara, and Katara had one on Bato when she was Aang's age. The fact that Katara got over hers is why she hopes he'll get over his crush on her.
  • Prison Rape: Implied with the threat of cooler fever. Since its noted that cooler fevers makes one so weak that they can't defend themselves from the guards or fellow prisoners.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Ozai is officially this to the Fire Nation generals.
  • The Power of Love: Ty Lee gives a very good and coherent explanation of what people will do for "the fuzzies" like Mai saving Zuko at Boiling Rock, Suki hijacking the airship to save Sokka, and Oma flattening two cities when Shu died. They hope to invoke this power to get Kuei to grow a spine by bringing Song back to him.
    • On the other hand, Pakku tries to deconstruct this in his talk against inter-nation marriage by feeling that love is not enough of a reason to do things like that when the world is already so out of balance. Katara disagrees with him, but admits he had some points.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: In-Universe, the Southern Water Tribe Warriors praise Sokka and Aang's accomplishments, but never acknowledge Katara, Suki or Toph's accomplishments. Then they expect Katara to do the sewing and cooking even though the villa has servants. This is used to show how sexist the Water Tribe men are.
  • Race Fetish: Ty Lee and other Fire Nation women have ones for Water Tribe men.
  • The Rant: The author's notes offers insight to the writing process, why characters act within fic, why certain cultural influences pop up and show the author's various questions regarding canon.
  • Red Baron: The Fire Nation's nickname for Hakoda is "the Blue Wolf".
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subverted, for the author, being feminine doesn't mean anti-feminist. What's bad is when someone is shoe-horned into a role just because of their gender.
    • Deconstructed, in that Katara was willing to learn healing but didn't want to because she was not allowed to be anything beyond healer. She learns healing of her own accord and because she needs to, and then decides to train to become a doctor now that her warrior-bender skills won't be needed any more (she hopes).
  • Really Gets Around: Iroh turns out to have done this, before he met his wife, and it's implied he went back to his old ways after the deaths of both his wife and son.
    • In the Ember Island play, Stage!Katara and Stage!Zuko
    • Ty Lee is a somewhat more PG-rated version; the author's notes even say that one possible way that Aang might get her to accept that she's an Air Nomad by blood and is likely an unrealised airbender is by getting her to think that following Air Nomad philosophy — in particular the part about "Free Love" — will allow her the perfect excuse to sleep with every guy she wants without ever committing to any one boy in particular.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The author points out that the decision to Suck Out the Poison is no longer the best method for dealing with poisonous bites, but she had to do it, since the Avatar-verse is not up to the same level as the modern universe, and there weren't any medical facilities on Ember Island.
  • Reign of Terror: Ozai had one, which is why most of the Fire Nation accept Zuko. Everybody with their head screwed on right figures he simply cannot be as bad as his father was. The only ones to actively seek to enthrone one of the others are either direct profiteers from Ozai's reign or convinced they can "work around" Azula's psychosis.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Zuko isn't happy about being Fire Lord, since he feels unprepared for the job, and would rather have his uncle take over.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: The Running Gag of Jet's Troubling Obsession, which ends up being Played for Drama in the final chapter when Jet realizes that while he never found proof for Zuko being a firebender, he saw many instances where Iroh was firebending. He realizes that Iroh was able to stay warm in their poor insulated apartment naked in early spring and is making large quantities of tea without firewood.
    • In a Played for Laughs version, Smellerbee. She thinks that Jet's obsession with Zuko is an unhealthy crush and Jet is afraid of coming out of the closet. So she and Longshot try to show their support of him, showing that they won't reject him for being bisexual and try to find Jet some help.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The Fire Nation has a long history of them, besides Ozai and Azula, there was a Fire Lady who only spoke to pineapples and required all of her courtiers to carry a pineapple so she could address the pineapple when she wanted to speak to the courtier.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Not Stalking Zuko has censored profanity, while Not Stalking Firelord Zuko has actual profanity, including Za Jei letting off a Cluster F-Bomb when ranting about Aang.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Zuko's Fire Lord robes are too heavy and uncomfortable and Azula's pink hospital gown makes her look like a child
  • Satellite Love Interest: Suki fears that the Gaang only see her as Sokka's girlfriend, and takes many steps to establish her own role in the Gaang.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: Since the fic entirely consists of Katara writing about events after they happen, anything that she doesn't see herself (e.g. the events of "The Boiling Rock," which involved Sokka and Zuko staging a jailbreak) gets told to her by other characters.
  • Secret Diary: Katara's stalker log. Naturally, Sokka ends up reading it.
  • Secret Police: Besides the Dai Li, Ozai had one as well, which was responsible for causing many dissenters and noblemen to disappear.
  • Secret Relationship: There are a few in the series- Katara and Zuko, Bato and Ming, and Kuei and Song. The various challenges of keeping one going are explored, and, late in the series, this inspires Zuko and Katara to come forward about theirs.
  • Sex Equals Love: Discussed by Suki in Not Stalking Zuko. She says that because sex is something people who are in relationships often do, they "were all bound up together and sometimes confused with each other".
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Lampshaded by Katara after her birthday spa date
  • Shipper on Deck: Iroh, Toph, Sokka and Suki ship Katara/Zuko.
    • Pakku and Yugoda ship Katara/Aang, but not for the best of reasons. While having good intentions, they believe that the Water Tribe's patriarchal traditions won't change any time soon, and Katara's best bet is to find a good husband- if she can't stand the son of the Northern Water Tribe's leader, then the Avatar would be the best alternative.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • The author believes that Katara's feelings for Aang are maternal. Various incidents, such as Katara (and the author) believing that Aang does not understand her desire for revenge, and Katara's reaction to Aang sparing Ozai, help sink the ship. The last nail in the coffin comes when Katara kisses Aang in an attempt to get over Zuko, which essentially causes him to realize that it's not what he wanted and get over his crush on Katara.
    • Maiko is sunk by Azula revealing that Mai was her spy, although it takes a few chapters for them to finally break up.
  • The Shrink: Dr. Wang is type 3, but ends up being type 2 to Jet. Dr. Wang is able to pinpoint what Jet's problem is but Jet doesn't want to believe it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Naked Iroh Time
    • In "The Boy in the Iceberg," Combustion Man makes a speechnote  referencing "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
  • Shown Their Work/Word of God: Every chapter ends with a long, rambly author's note explaining her thoughts on the subjects covered in the chapter and her interpretation of the related canon information.
  • Show Within a Show: Love Amongst The Dragons and The Boy in the Iceberg.
  • Show Some Leg: Suki used this to get tickets to The Boy in the Iceberg.
  • Sick Episode: Zuko gets sick with cooler fever a day after the prison break. Katara gets one after she gets stung by a scorpidillo.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The core of Katara and Zuko's attraction to each other.
  • Slice of Life: Each entry of the trilogy have a bit of this for flavor owing to being told through the daily narrative mouthpiece of Katara's Secret Diary, but Not Stalking Zuko (the middle story) is the truest example of the three, as (aside from its ending) it's mostly Katara detailing the fairly peaceful daily lives and shenanigans of the Gaang while they stay on Ember Island and train for the upcoming final battle, and focus is put on small daily (usually minor) misadventures and moments and what they reveal about each member of the Gaang and the group dynamic as a whole—and of course, Katara's deepening crush on Zuko.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: More on the cynical side compared to canon. Aang's ideals are frequently deconstructed and shown to be impractical, while Zuko has more of a point in most discussions. For much of the later story, many people make arguments against Zuko and Katara getting together, without giving Katara much of an opportunity for a rebuttal.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: The four nations have differing ideas on the role of women, from the Fire Nation, who are the most egalitarian owing to the practical needs of needing constant waves of Red Shirt conscripts to power the aggressor force for a hundred year war, to the Northern Water Tribe, who the author points out canonically held their negative views on women as more important to them than the need to teach the Avatar, once he spoke out in Katara's favor. It's unclear how the Earth Kingdom matches up, because it's very diverse but apparently practices foot-binding on very young girls, despite the fact that one out of twelve die from the procedure.
    • The Southern Water Tribe was slightly less oppressive but still very patriarchal; women waterbenders were clearly taught actual waterbending (see: Hama) and they don't appear to have had arranged marriages, but their accomplishments are not celebrated like men's and they were still expected to basically act as their husband's domestic servant, with Gram-Gram even differing to ''Sokka' on decisions despite him being a teenager and her being a village Elder. However it's notable that this gender hierarchy was collapsing rapidly while the men were away, because the women had to take over their jobs to survive, and while Sokka was initially sexist he still respected Katara and the rest of the remaining tribe too much to treat her or them as that far beneath him. Apparently the wife of the most vocally misogynistic warrior in their tribe has become the Tribe's best hunter while he was away, and Katara viciously hopes that returning home will teach the man a lesson.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: Mainly on the characters side. The plot is largely driven by Katara and Zuko's relationship, and a good portion of what plot there is comes from the canon series.
  • Slut-Shaming: Jet does this extensively to Jin, he constantly calls Jin a shameless hussy for daring to flirt with Zuko. Although this is emphasize Jet's irrationality and jealousy of her
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Inverted, Katara is bewildered at first that she is the only one who hates Zuko. She grows out of it.
  • Spot of Tea: Along with Iroh, Zuko always makes tea for the Gaang.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Zuko sucked the poison out of Katara's ankle after she got stung by a scorpiodillo.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jet is this for Zuko, but believes he is the trope below.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Katara was initially this to Zuko, to keep a lookout for his betrayal. Jet claims he's this to Zuko, and gives every sign of consciously believing his own hype (subconsciously, though, is another matter).
  • The Stations of the Canon: The fic follows most of the canon evens, frequently using scenes to justify or explain characters' actions in certain scenes, up to and including the kiss between Katara and Aang at the end of the series. The author hopes that this can show that Zutara and canon can "be friends."
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Katara gets hit with this trope hard after Sozin's Comet when she reunites with the Southern Water Tribe Warriors. They don't even acknowledge her successes and immediately try to make her do the sewing and washing because she's there.
  • Stealth Pun: Katara calls Zuko "Subject" throughout Stalking Zuko because depersonalization helps to resist endearment. When she gets drunk and proclaims herself the Fountain Queen, she dubs him her Royal Subject. He doesn't get it.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Katara and Sokka are not even home yet, but already feel like outsiders to their tribe. Katara especially feels this way because of the tribe's attitude on women, and this is one reason why she requests an apprenticeship with Dr. Yang.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In Stalking Zuko, Katara makes an unprompted list (which Word of God details was immediately following her and Zuko's fireflakes fight) full of reasons Zuko annoys her, petulant complaints about fireflakes and pirates, and Suspiciously Specific Denial about how she definitely would never like him or find him attractive. In The Collected Lists of Zuko, it's heavily implied that after this same fireflakes fight, Zuko also created what amounts to the exact same list on the exact same subject with extremely similar points and similarly Suspiciously Specific Denial about attraction, except the list is flipped to be about Katara and is pro-fireflakes. Neither knows the other is doing this or ever sees the other's list.
  • Stupid Evil: The author calls Ozai this, saying his plan to incinerate the Earth Kingdom would have destroyed the land he hoped to conquer. She also suspects that he's not an intellectual type, and is good at manipulating people, but not running a country.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Jet has this whenever he sees Zuko do something badass.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: This is rather common in a fic that deconstructs many parts of canon.
    • When Zuko is hit by lighting, he had to see a real doctor and was comatose for a few days and bedridden for a week afterwards- and it's indicated that even when he's standing after Katara heals him, he's not entirely there.
    • Aang is competent and trained enough to defeat the Firelord with the use of all four elements and the Avatar State, but he isn't a master in all four. After all he had less than a year to learn his non-native elements: about seven months learning Water, five or six learning Earth, and only about two learning Fire. Every one of his masters spent years trying to understand and work with the nuances of their individual element, while Aang had very limited time with each to adjust to feeling and manipulating them. As a result, Toph and Zuko actually streamlined the education down to the combative necessities Aang would need to survive, rather than giving him a full and robust education. After Aang defeats the Firelord, his education in bending can afford to become more nuanced and thorough and less rushed and combat-oriented.
    • Twice more in Jet's Troubling Obsession, when Zuko tries to show Jin the view of Ba Sing Se, she lacks the fitness and strength that most of the Avatar cast has and had to be assisted by Zuko to get on the roof. This was supposed to compare the cast to normal people.
    • Jet's therapy proves counterproductive because he doesn't believe he has a problem.
    • Aang may be the Avatar, and that may give him great power, but he's still a twelve year old child being asked to solve a century-old global political conflict, and a particularly naive child at that. Of course he's not going to manage it perfectly; he's still in the process of learning how to predict and properly consider the consequences of his actions, and naturally making mistakes in the process. This issue is compounded by the fact that it's also difficult for him to see value in others' advice sometimes because he simply hasn't yet reached the point at which he can understand and accept the value in opinions that contradict his own—at least, not without suffering the consequences of not listening first.
    • Similarly, Aang's particular brand of Innocently Insensitive preachy idealism, insistence that everyone immediately forgive wrongs against them, and denial of the moral nuance involved in justice, healing, and actual forgiveness doesn't mean that the world and those around him actually conform to his standards. By Not Stalking Firelord Zuko, it just means that Aang's friends don't always inform him of the more morally complicated parts of events they're involved in because they don't want to be preached at.
    • Aang's disappearance right before Sozin's Comet doesn't just worry and scare his friends, but deeply shakes their trust in him—especially Katara's, given her history with abandonment issues. The author discusses that they're not certain how much agency Aang had in his disappearance or whether he could or could not have informed his friends somehow that he was okay, but regardless the result was that he left his friends in a terrifying position with no information about what was going on during the most critical high-stakes do-or-die days of the war and didn't seem much concerned over having done so, which would logically have an impact on those relationships.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: Katara finds some on her bed in an abandoned house in the first chapters of Not Stalking Zuko.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Stage!Katara's tears do quite a bit, such as healing Aang after "Crossroads of Destiny", or cleaning up the river in "The Painted Lady".
  • Take Our Word for It: The filthiness of the Hedgehog Song.
  • Take That!:
    • The author makes several derisive references to the lion turtle as a Deus ex Machina in her authors' notes. In-universe the rest of the Gaang lampshade this by directly calling Aang's story out as very convenient and making no sense with anything else they know (a few even imply they don't believe it happened). At one point Katara teases Zuko about how, since Aang has explained the Lion Turtle story to him three times now, Zuko can now explain it to the rest of them, because nobody else has been able to make any sense of it. Zuko sheepishly confirms that even after it being explained to him over and over again, he still doesn't get it either, but he wasn't of the mind to over-examine it because everything had somehow worked out through "dumb luck and coincidence and chance."
    • The author also complains about being on the receiving end of this in Bryke's remark about Zutara shippers.
  • Talk About That Thing: After Katara gets bitten by a scorpidillo because Aang tries to airbend it rather than firebend, Zuko takes him aside and tells him that because he made the wrong choice of bending, Katara could have been killed.
  • Team Chef: Lampshaded by Katara, she is only one in their group that can cook.
  • Therapy Backfire: Zuko and Smellerbee try to get Jet into therapy to for his obsession. Doctor Wang pushes Jet into a revelation, but not one they want. While the therapist Dr.Wang agrees with them that Jet has a problem, it's because of the therapy that Jet realizes that he had evidence that he found a firebender.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted twice with Azula who gets medical help and psychiatric from Dr. Yang, and Jet who is forced by Smellerbee into therapy with Dr. Wang.
    • There are no true therapists in the Fire Nation, in the Earth Kingdom however...
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Deconstructed in that Aang's decision to spare Ozai's life and take away his bending goes against everyone's (including the past Avatar's) advice, infuriates everyone, and causes dire problems for Zuko's legitimacy as Fire Lord, which is seriously destabilizing the Fire Nation.
  • Through His Stomach: Hakoda and Sokka believe in this trope when Katara gives Zuko food, and Katara insists they're reading too much into it ("They are just fireflakes not a proposal of marriage"). Suki tries this with Sokka but turns out to be a Lethal Chef due to lack of experience.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Iroh giving Katara the respect she deserves by calling her Master Katara and acknowledging what she has done for the war after getting belittled by her own tribe. Also, Iroh stealing Piando's gift to Sokka to not shaft Sokka for not being a bender.
  • Torture Cellar: Ozai has one, and it is used as proof as why he shouldn't be Fire Lord — as much for the illegality of it as for the obvious signs of psychosis.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Zuko loves his fireflakes and Katara loves her sea prunes.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Lampshaded in-universe and in the Author's notes. To get the Fire Nation from the Earth Kingdom, Zuko and Katara had to take a shortcut through an ocean instead of their regular route which would take days.
  • Trilogy Creep: The series has expanded greatly over time, not just having the three main entries, but also having many side stories about other characters.
  • Tsundere: Katara is Type A, as Zuko was formerly their enemy and Katara doesn't trust him to not betray them, combined with Zuko constantly getting on her nerves for one reason or another. Katara is initially very hostile to Zuko until they become friends and Katara realizes her feelings for him. Then she is no longer this trope when she is crushing on him. Slightly deconstructed when Zuko gets worn out by her hostility and believes them not to be friends
    • Deconstructed with Jet; he is in denial about his feelings for Zuko, as he refuses to accept he's bisexual, and justifies his stalking as trying to out him as a firebender as opposed to rather creepy lust spawned by Zuko's rejection of him. Zuko, Smellerbee and Longshot believe him to have serious problems, it prevents Jet from moving on or helping his friends, and ultimately ends with the canonical events that lead to Jet getting arrested and brainwashed by the Dai Li.
  • Twice Shy: Katara and Zuko.
  • Unfortunate Name: Piando's butler and partner, Fat.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Katara's aware she and Zuko have developed this in the latter half of Not Stalking Zuko, but various members of the Gaang perceive this far earlier. Toph in particular perceived it as Belligerent Sexual Tension as early as the back half of Stalking Zuko.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: The Joo Dees, taken Up to Eleven.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • There are quite a few for alcohol and sex-related matters. For example, "cheeky" is an attitude referring to raunchy bits, while "do the squelchy" is a term for having sex.
    • A whole chapter in Not Stalking Zuko centers around Aang's relative innocence compared to the rest of the boys in their group, at least when it comes to Unusual Euphemism. When Aang seeks out love advice from Zuko, Zuko is uncomfortable with Aang's questions and redirects Aang to Sokka. Sokka misunderstands Aang's questions and gives Aang The Talk using "penguin sledding" as a euphemism, confusing Aang immensely, since he'd already gone penguin sledding with Katara. Sokka then tries to make Zuko explain The Talk to Aang, and both end up arguing over it using Sokka's ridiculous euphemism. Katara finds this hilarious.
    • Inverted with Jet regarding everything he says about Zuko. He intends for his words to be entirely nonsexual threats, however almost all of them come across to everyone who hears him as Freudian Slips or even just outright sexual harrassment. The fact that he constantly and frequently announces, completely unprompted, that he definitely isn't gay for Zuko doesn't help.
  • Urban Legend Love Life: Zuko has one due to the Boy in the Iceberg making him seem like a sexual deviant. A popular sexual deviant, mind you, who gets propositioned by girls working in coordinated groups because of his alleged threesome-loving prowess.
  • Useful Book: A nine-year-old Zuko used a thick book about the Fire Nation's history as a footstool while trying to learn how to play the tsungi horn.
  • Vacation Episode: The Ember Island Arc.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Katara become one to Zuko after he got shot by lightning, although by that point in the story she wasn't his girlfriend. Justified that Zuko was defenseless at the time and she was worried about assassins taking advantage of that.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted with Ozai; Fire Nation colonials don't trust him, and Fire Nation old guard and the elite generally think Ozai's completely nuts. The only ones who still want him on the throne are those who directly profited from Ozai's being there, or just consider him a "better quantity" than either the now-psychotic Azula or the unknown element Zuko.
  • Warts and All: A reoccuring theme. The heroes are genuinely heroic but deeply flawed, and while they do what they think is best for everyone and do try to work on their flaws while they're at it, the relationships that work out among the cast are typically the ones that recognize each other's flaws and love each other despite (or even because) of them. For example, Zuko tells Toph in confidence that he secretly loves Katara's bossiness, while Katara fondly reminisces on Zuko's bursts of anger and frustration during Zuko's post-lightning strike coma. It's implied this is also to some extent how history will remember them, because Katara mentions her intention for her diary to serve as a record of the history she lived through and her diary is very good at humanizing those she discusses, including herself.
  • We Were Rehearsing a Play: Jet and Zuko say they were acting out the fight scene in the Tragedy of Oma and Shu, not getting into a street fight, in an effort to avoid jail time.
  • Wham Episode: Aang disappearing before the comet, the Gaang were freaking and thinking that Aang might have abandoned them.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Katara drinks too much sake with Suki and doesn't remember until she stayed awake for few hours.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Katara wonders constantly what draws Zuko to Gloomy Hairbuns (Mai).
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: In-Universe, the late night screening of Boy in the Iceberg
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: In-Universe, the Siege of the North killed off many Fire Nation naval soldiers, a lot of them from Ember Islands. The Gaang, excluding Zuko, didn't realize the human cost until seeing a memorial service on Ember Island for the naval soldiers lost in the Siege. Zuko saw the dead bodies while floating on a raft at sea. Aang is left unaware of what he done until the worst possible time.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Word of God wondered where Appa went during the Agni Kai, but justified that Katara and Zuko must have put him somewhere far away from the site since he's afraid of fire. They spend a good portion of the chapter going to Zuko's old villa and dropping him off there.
    • Averted with Hawky. Per canon, Hawky, the messenger hawk Sokka bought did not show up after 'The Runaway'. In Not Stalking Zuko it is revealed that he returned during the Gaang's stay at Ember Island with a reply and was sent back with a reply to THAT soon after.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Katara does not accept Aang's lion turtle excuse, she calls him out for abandoning them in their most critical hour, and everyone calls out Aang for sparing Ozai and destabilizing the Fire Nation power structure.
    • In a lesser version, Mai calls Toph out for acting like Mai doesn't have feelings because she doesn't show them. Katara realizes she's been doing the same in a Heel Realization.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Chapter 28 of Not Stalking Firelord Zuko is essentially an author's note that reveals what happens to every major character once the story ends.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: The Gaang all wonder who wrote The Boy In The Iceberg
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Firebending for Appa.
  • World of Snark: Everyone snarks at some point.
  • Worthy Opponent: The retired Fire Nation general admires Hakoda's bravery.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The author wonders if this is at play in Ursa being Roku's granddaughter, but also concedes that she also this herself.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Zuko tells this to Katara, when she's having doubts about taking revenge on Yon Rha. Katara returns the favor in Not Stalking Zuko.
  • You Are Not Alone: It's implied this was what finally convinced Zuko to become Fire Lord, that Iroh would be helping him rule.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Zuko to Katara regarding her actions in "The Painted Lady," saying she helped the villagers back then.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Arnook congratulates Aang for both his sparing Ozai — explicitly because of this causing major political instability amongst the Fire Nation — and for his slaughter of the Fire Nation navy fleet. Aang, who believed that he never killed people, is not pleased and is horrified.

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